Initially, a person charged with a family violence offense may be given either no bond or a high bond until a judge enters a Temporary Restraining Order against the accused person, at which time the bond is significantly reduced. For example, bond might initially be set at $50,000, but reduced to $5,000 when a Temporary Restraining Order is entered.
IN SITUATIONS LIKE THESE, THE PERSON ACCUSED WOULD BE WISE TO WAIT TO HIRE A BONDSMAN UNTIL THE BOND IS REDUCED.
For most offenses, including family violence offenses, a defendant is entitled to bond pending resolution of the case. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 17.15 states the factors that courts must consider in setting a bond
- The bail shall be sufficiently high to give reasonable assurance that the undertaking will be complied with.
- The power to require bail is not to be so used as to make it an instrument of oppression.
- The nature of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed are to be considered.
- The ability to make bail is to be regarded, and proof may be taken upon this point.
- The future safety of a victim of the alleged offense and the community shall be considered.
Texas appeals courts have held that other factors can be considered. These factors include the defendant’s work record, community ties, family ties, length of residency, prior criminal history, conformity with any prior bonds, and the existence of any outstanding bond.
The trial court cannot set just any bond. The court must set a reasonable bond. If the bond is unreasonable, then the defendant can appeal. These appeals are “expedited” or sped up, since the defendant is in custody.
Defendants usually hire a bonding company to post the bond. Bonding companies typically want the defendant to pay ten percent or so of the total bond amount and put up some collateral to make sure the defendant does not jump bond (e.g., fail to appear in court). For example, if the trial court sets a $20,000 bond, a bonding company might charge $2,000 and require the remaining bond amount to be secured by property, such as a house.